Wow, time has flown. It feels like only yesterday that I was rocking my Blackberry Curve 8300 (no WiFi) and actually proud of it. I did not buy into the iPhone hype when it was released and stayed out, mostly because my Curve had video recording capability which the iPhone didn’t. Believe me, I took some videos on that thing that I still cherish, bad quality and all.
Instead of doing a normal retrospective I thought I’d pick up random articles written around the time the iPhone launched, and laugh at the ones that mocked the iPhone and predicted its doom, some even before it was released. Hindsight is so beautiful, innit?
Ad Age: Why the iPhone Will Fail
Prediction No. 1: The iPhone will be a major disappointment.
The hype has been enormous. Apple says its iPhone is “literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” A stock-market analyst says, “The iPhone has the potential to be even bigger than the iPod.”
Prediction No. 2: The media will blame the execution, not the concept.
Instead, the iPhone is going to fail because its design is fundamentally flawed.
First, the iPhone ignores the main reasons that the iPod succeeded: simplicity and ease of use.
Second, the iPhone crams too many functions into a single box.
Third, users will detest the touch screen interface due to its lack of tactile feedback.
An iPod with just a cell keypad on the back would have been, may still be, a smash hit product for someone. But the iPhone as currently consituted? Forget it.
Because its designers forgot Platt’s First, Last, and Only Law of User Experience Design (“Know Thy User, for He Is Not Thee”), that product is going to crash in flames. Sell your Apple stock now, while the hype’s still hot. You heard it here first.
The Register: Why the Apple phone will fail, and fail badly
This one is a great read because all the reasons mentioned in the article are exactly what Apple destroyed with the iPhone. Incredibly, a lot of the same type of chatter is heard now for the TV business, except the bad guys in control are the Hollywood mafia and not the carriers. We shall see how that story unfolds later in 2012.
Commsday: THE LONG VIEW: Why the iPhone will fail
But then – and here’s my prediction part – something strange will happen. In a week or two the fuss will fade and people will start to realise an important point: it’s just a phone, and not a particularly “smart” one at that. And then people will start to find flaws in it, because let’s face it, version 1.0 of anything is going to have flaws, particularly something loaded with sensitive radios and electronics like a mobile phone.
And finally, there’s the competition. The likes of Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG won’t be idle bystanders as Apple tries to do to the mobile phone market what it did to MP3 players with the iPod. Building a mobile phone isn’t rocket science – it’s much more complex than that. And the traditional guys have been doing it for the best part of 20 years.
It’s hardware, it’s proprietary, so I really planned on keeping my mouth shut about it. But there is one point I have decided to make, one related directly to this beat, which is the real reason I believe the iPhone will, at best, disappoint in the market.
Open spectrum. We don’t have much, and we are nowhere near getting more.
The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. In terms of its impact on the industry, the iPhone is less relevant.
First, Apple is late to this party.
Next, the mobile-phone industry depends on cooperation with the big networks.
Lastly, the iPhone is a defensive product. It is mainly designed to protect the iPod, which is coming under attack from mobile manufacturers adding music players to their handsets.
The best one, by John C. Dvorak on MarketWatch: Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone
There is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive. Even in the business where it is a clear pioneer, the personal computer, it had to compete with Microsoft and can only sustain a 5% market share.
What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a “reference design” and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures.
It should do that immediately before it’s too late. Samsung Electronics Ltd. might be a candidate. Otherwise I’d advise you to cover your eyes. You’re not going to like what you’ll see.
(Thanks to Kevin Nunez for reminding me about Dvorak’s classic.)
Finally, a couple of point-by-point mythbuster pieces by Tom Reestman, which in fact were inspiration for this blog post: Red Ferret’s list of “serious problems” with the iPhone touchscreen, and What a shock. Another BS (Baltimore Sun?) list of reasons to avoid the iPhone.
Oh, how the world has changed. “Late to the party” is now Motorola and Nokia. “Carriers control the whole thing” is now flipped over to carriers like TMobile begging to get the iPhone. “Too complex” is now flipped over to the iPhone being the simplest and the most intuitive user interface.
Let’s all use this 5th anniversary of the iPhone to thank Steve Jobs and everyone at Apple who opened this new world up for us, where it’s not just smartphones but mobile, highly-connected devices that help to get work done more efficiently and in more places than ever before.
Hat tip, iPhone.